Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 80.17
Liaison Mike Wilson
Submission Date May 5, 2020

STARS v2.2

University of Victoria
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 2.00 Kay-Lynn Yacoboski
Sustainability Intern
Office of Campus Planning and Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution own or manage land that includes or is adjacent to legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, or regions of conservation importance?:
Yes

A brief description of the legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance:

As indicated in the UVic Campus Plan, there are several areas protected by environmental covenants and other agreements where development will not be considered except for pathways, service lines, and underground services. Any of these permitted developments must be informed by special studies on ecological impacts, remediation plans, and stakeholder input. The protected areas on campus include:
•Bowker Creek
•Cunningham Woods
•Garry Oak Meadow
•South Woods
•Mystic Vale
•Hobbs Creek
•Haro Woods

To read the full campus plan, see: https://www.uvic.ca/campusplanning/assets/docs/Campus-Plan-Update-2015/UVicCampusPlan.01.26.2016reduced.pdf


Has the institution conducted an assessment to identify endangered and vulnerable species (including migratory species) with habitats on land owned or managed by the institution?:
No

A list of endangered and vulnerable species with habitats on land owned or managed by the institution, by level of extinction risk:
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Has the institution conducted an assessment to identify areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution?:
Yes

A brief description of areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution:

In the 2017 University of Victoria Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory conducted by Jenny Hebb and Dr. Valentin Schaefer, several areas are outlined as ecosystems that are sensitive to disturbance and support a wide array of plant and animal species. These include riparian areas, swamps, woodlands and older second growth forest.

Riparian areas contain vegetation that help stabilize stream banks so less stream erosion occurs and therefore less habitat is degraded, providing more opportunity for a high level of species to establish themselves in this environment. Riparian areas are present in:
•Bowker Creek
•Hobbs Creek
•Mystic Vale

Wetlands that support forests are known as swamps and provide rich habitats for a variety of bird, mammal and insect species. Swamps are present in:
•Bowker Creek
•Cunningham Woods

Woodlands are areas of transition between two ecosystem types, in UVic’s grounds these are meadow and Douglas-fir forests. Woodland ecosystems on campus are sensitive due to populations of Garry oaks that support these woodland environments. According to the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team (GOERT), Garry oak and associated ecosystems combined are home to more plant species than any other ecosystem in coastal British Columbia. Patches of woodland are present in:
•Bowker Creek
•Garry Oak Meadow
•Cunningham Woods
•South Woods
•Hobbs Creek
•Mystic Vale

Older second growth forest or maturing climax ecosystems are known to characteristically have high levels of biodiversity which continue to generally increase as the forest ages and becomes more established. This ecosystem type is found in each of the natural areas on campus, but the largest areas are found in:
•South Woods
•Hobbs Creek
•Mystic Vale


The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or areas of biodiversity importance and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

The 2017 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory is structured around detailed maps of the UVic campus. The data for these maps came primarily from the GIS data collected by Harrop-Archibald during her field work for the Natural Features Studies (2007 & 2008).

The Natural Features Study entailed inventory data collection and mapping of the natural areas of the Gordon Head campus. This inventory and assessment was required to supply important information to guide future planning on campus as part of the Campus Plan Implementation program.

The provincial Sensitive Ecosystem Inventory classification scheme was adapted to provide a framework for describing the natural ecosystems on campus, and an indicator plant analysis was carried out to determine site series classification. Data was collected using the Thales mobile mappers and ArcPad software from March to April for phase one and from September to December for phase two. Differential GPS was used when mapping most polygons. Areas of interest were traversed along visual transects of various widths depending on visibility. Transects were marked with flagging tape to keep the observer on course and prevent double counting. Most vegetation was identified with field guide books. Vegetation that the observers were unsure of was photographed, put in a plant press, and brought to the University’s herbarium for further study and accurate identification by herbarium staff. Additionally, some fresh samples were brought to botanists in the School of Environmental Studies and identified by them.

The majority of the data that was collected for these earlier Natural Features Studies was not described or mapped in these earlier reports. Raw data was processed, analyzed and mapped to create the backbone of the 2017 Inventory. The software used to create the maps in this report was a free and open source professional geographic information systems program called QGIS. Data is presented in both polygon data maps and line data maps. The polygon data maps provide a visual display of ecosystem types and dominant tree cover. The point and line data maps show creeks and culverts, special features, Arbutus tress, Garry oak trees and wildlife trees.


A brief description of the scope of the assessment(s):

This assessment identified sensitive ecosystems on and immediately surrounding the UVic Gordon Head campus.


A brief description of the plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats, and/or ecosystems:

There are various plans in place to protect and positively affect these identified sensitive ecosystems as outlined by both the 2017 University of Victoria Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory, as well as the 2018 University of Victoria Campus Ecological Restoration Guide. These plans are tailored to specific sites and are as follows:

• Bowker Creek: Some large areas surrounding Bowker Creek is overgrown with various invasive species, but most prominently English Ivy. The top priority has been to remove Ivy from tree trunks as well as other invasive species such as yellow flag iris, thistle, Daphne, Robert’s geranium, grasses and English holly. There have been various sessions carried out by staff, students and community members to specifically to pull English Ivy from the area, while Facilities Management has continued to carry out removal of other invasive species. Additionally, interpretive signs for educational purposes have been installed, as well as riparian buffers widened to promote the strength of the stream banks, and riparian vegetation planted with the intention to stabilize surrounding sediments. In the future, it is recommended that an inventory for bird and bats be made to better assess any special requirements for management, as the high concentration of wildlife trees probably supports a high level of biodiversity and there are likely unique or rare species of interest.

• Cunningham Woods: To address the concern of English Ivy invasion in Cunningham Woods, undergraduate classes,UVic Residence Green Team, The Land Conservancy of B.C., and the Ecological Restoration Volunteer Network (ERVN) have continuously organized Ivy pulls in the area, some of which are followed by the planting of native species. These program activities will improve the ecological health of Cunningham Woods.

• Garry Oak Meadow: Intensive invasive species removal have left this ecosystem relatively free of the Scotch Broom, however new seedlings pose a continued threat. Intensive efforts to remove invasive species continues, and removal of Scotch Broom seedlings is to occur every three years, along with other invasive species, such as Daphne Laurel and Himalayan Blackberry.

• South Woods: Concerns associated with South Woods are primarily invasive English Ivy as well as heavy fuel loading (large amounts of leaves and organic debris) on the forest floor due to storm damage to trees. As with various other sites on campus, this area has been targeted for invasive species removal by ERVN, the Greater Victoria Green Team (GVGT) and various other student groups. The heavy fuel loading poses a serious fire hazard and a risk assessment followed by possible removal of the fuel load has been recommended.

• Mystic Vale: As with other forests and wooded areas on campus, again the primary concern is invasive species, with English Ivy being the most prominent. Similar to areas on campus that share this characteristic, various groups have made efforts to remove these invasive species and continue to do so on a regular basis.

• Hobbs Creek: Stream bank erosion and siltation are a constant threat to Hobbs Creek. Facilities management as well as other student groups have planted riparian vegetation along the banks in an effort to try and stabilize the sediments. These planting activities continue to be encouraged. Additionally, volunteers have constructed wattles (essentially small fences) along the stream banks made out of red-osier dogwood and black cottonwood cuttings in an effort to further stabilize the surrounding soil. Because major erosion events of Hobbs Creek are due to the large amount of storm water runoff from impervious surface in the surrounding District of Oak Bay watershed, the university is unable to implement a long-terms solution by only working with the watercourse in Mystic Vale itself. The university is working with the District of Oak Bay to reduce the area of impervious surface to support the health of Hobbs Creek. Trails adjacent to watercourses have been assessed for potential damage to creeks and re-designed if necessary. This area has also been sign posted as an area for walking dogs on-leash only and no allowance for mountain biking.

• Haro Woods: Haro Woods faces the same issues as other wooded areas on campus in terms of large quantities of invasive species. Efforts by the ERVN and other volunteer students, as well as UVic Childcare Service have been relatively successful in removing these invasive species, most notably Daphne. These efforts continue on a regular basis.


Estimated percentage of areas of biodiversity importance that are also protected areas :
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Website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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Links for various phases of Natural Features Study as well as the Campus Plan can be found at: https://www.uvic.ca/campusplanning/studies-reports/index.php

UVic Campus Ecological Restoration Guide: http://urbanecology.ca/documents/Reports%20Authored%20or%20Edited/UVicCampusRestorationGuide.pdf

University of Victoria Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory: https://www.uvic.ca/sustainability/assets/docs/fund/CSF005-sensitive-ecosystem.pdf

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.